After enjoying The Dark Pictures first outing, Man of Medan, I was, and am, very keen to see how the ongoing series manages to keep the tension up while transposing the setting and characters to wholly new places with each entry. Little Hope is the second outing in the saga and while enjoyable in much the same way as before in terms of its storytelling mechanics and choices, I left my time with it a little underwhelmed overall.
In almost stark contrast to Man of Medan’s Oceanic setting, we find ourselves in the backwater town of Little Hope. After a bus crash we join a group of five students who appear to be the only ones left as they venture into Little Hope in search of help and the missing driver. Of course, I’ll steer clear of the finer details of the story – at least, the parts I experienced – but this set up, when taking in concert with the brief opening section prior to the crash, is suitably creepy and intriguing.
As we play we’ll swap between the five protagonists, though it’s clear from the off (and the box art) that Andrew is the focus. He is one of the younger members of the group of students, and also seems to have come off worse after the crash, having seemingly suffered a memory-losing concussion. Elsewhere in the group we have John, the teacher of the group and de-facto leader in his eyes; Angela, an older lady who isn’t up for being walked over; Daniel, the almost jock-type, with his eyes all over the final member; Taylor, who seems to revel in standing up to authority and her elders, and uses Daniel’s affections to coerce him into siding with her.
All are performed admirably, but I didn’t manage to feel as connected with any of the cast as well as I did in Man of Medan. Taylor and Daniel seemed to me to be the least likeable, with their reactions to situations seemingly changing every other sentence. Perhaps I’m starting to see the cracks in this style of presentation, but during my play through I definitely felt that the cohesion within scenes when presented with dialogue choices was not up to the last outing. There were a few instances of my choices seemingly causing a complete character change, before altering back in the next breath. The overall goings on were still enough to keep me going, but again I felt that Man of Medan handled the finer details more cohesively.
It could also just be the bizarre scenario we find our protagonists in that caused this disjointedness, mind. Not only has the bus driver gone missing, but the cast are seemingly pursued by several odd, creepy, and downright horrific beings throughout. Again avoiding spoilers; the narrative jumps across several time periods, and at least during my play through this lead to a feeling of utter confusion at times.
The dialogue options come thick and fast though, and there were more than a handful of times where I was genuinely torn between the two. The character traits return again and seem to be even more embedded into the story and likelihood of survival than before. We’re able to track several for each person, as well as their relationships to each other. There managed to be a good few surprises based on my choices between the characters, with these stats and my choices leading to outcomes much further down the line. I even lost one person late on thanks in part to early decisions I’d made regarding their outlook on the situation and group.
Tying the games together is the excellent Pip Torrens, back as the Curator again. His darkly humorous interludes between chapters offer not only a brief respite from the horrors, but also optional hints and further teases at just what might be going on in Little Hope. He’ll gently, perhaps a little sarcastically, encourage us when we’re doing well, while also mockingly berate us after losing someone. I’m thoroughly fascinated to see his role expand throughout the series.
I don’t want it to come across that I didn’t enjoy Little Hope though; for the most part the cinematic presentation is top notch, with some stunningly rendered characters and environments, perfectly skewed camera angles and all manner of ‘corner of the eye’ movement that keep the tension up. The bold faced scares didn’t hit home quite as well as I’d have hoped; a certain reoccurring jump scare became easily prefaced after the second time, for example. But the atmosphere manages to still suck us in regardless. Of course, Supermassive fully intend on us playing through multiple times and I have no doubt that I will over the next few weeks to see more possible outcomes and threads I missed. The co-op play element returns too, though sadly I’ve yet to be able to try this out. I definitely spotted a few scenes where this would be implemented though, and look forward to giving it a go soon.
I came in with high expectations for this second outing in The Dark Pictures series, but came away ever so slightly underwhelmed. It looks and sounds great, and the atmosphere and tension building is excellent. Sadly the all-important characters just didn’t quite resonate with me thanks to some sudden shifts in tone between sentences, and an overall feeling of disjointedness between scenes. Little Hope may not quite live up to Man of Medan then, but it’s still a passable bit of teen horror to fill up an evening or two.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.